Gallopin’ Grandma: Other better toys

By on December 23, 2014
Before they all bursted into tears.

Before they all bursted into tears.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Around the first October of every year a tornado of frenzied greed and hysterical angst slammed into our house, coinciding with the arrival of the Sears Christmas toy catalog. In a few weeks the catalog had disintegrated into a greasy, grubby rag as Santa was assaulted with list after larcenous list.

One year I was presented with a long list, which ended with the words, “ … and other better toys.” I think the writer learned that from a TV commercial and she also told me that she had, “the heartbreak of psoriasis.” She was a perfect pawn for Madison Avenue.

Santa didn’t have much to bring when my husband and I were kids. I wanted a Sonja Henie doll because she had little ice skates, but she never skated by. My husband got a Boy Scout survival kit, which attached to his belt and had water purification tablets, just the thing for southern Minnesota. He also wanted a Red Rider BB gun like the one Ralphie got, but he only got a cheap copy. He bought himself a real one recently and it’s always under our tree.

When Suburbia came into bloom, toys bloomed with it and little girls learned their true lot in suburban life. Santa could bring you an ironing board and iron that heated up, a little stove, a refrigerator, a wringer/washer that held water, or a broom and carpet sweeper. There was even a cleaning set with a little apron and dust mop. You couldn’t get a doctor’s set, as girls weren’t doctors. But you could have a nurse set.

I have no idea what boys got, but it sure as hell wasn’t a washing machine. I did have a dear friend whose mother gave him an Easy-Bake Oven when he was a little boy. We had one of those too, and my girls used it until they grew up. They were down in the basement cooking pizza, they said, but who knew what they were cooking up. Eventually the oven almost electrocuted them and we threw it out.

As the years went by I think we had every toy that ever was. We had one of the first Barbie dolls and I know there is a graveyard where a billion Barbie shoes are buried. I threw out the Legos when I walked on them in my bare feet. In spite of all our toys, Santa often missed the boat and there were tears, disappointment and general ingratitude. I reminded myself that it was a mother’s duty to make sure her children were miserable and disappointed.

Here I want to remind parents that if a toy has to be put together, it can come apart, and will. All of those carefully assembled parts will be scattered all over hell and can be used for their true purposes – as a weapon, to flush down the toilet, to feed the dog and dig up the yard. I would save yourself the trouble and just dump the parts on the floor and let nature takes its course.

I don’t know what better toys look like today. Most toys look like weapons of mass destruction, zombies and dolls that look like they should be standing on a street corner. I think I would like an Electrowhocardioflux with tam tinglers just like the ones the boys and girls down in Whoville played with before the Grinch took them away. Now that’s a better toy, and I want one now.

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